Flag lawyers want gov’t war on drugs declared unconstitutional

October 11, 2017 03:53pm

Jhoanna Ballaran

A group of human-rights lawyers on Wednesday urged the Supreme Court (SC) to stop the implementation of the government's deadly war on drugs by revoking two orders that serve as the campaign's blueprint.

Representing the three petitioners, the Free Legal Assistance Group (Flag) filed before the High Court a petition to declare as unconstitutional the Philippine National Police (PNP) Command Memorandum Circular (CMC) 16-2016 and the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Memorandum Circular (MC) 2017-112.

Flag chairman Jose Manuel Diokno said the CMC 16-2016 is unconstitutional because: it expressly authorizes the police to kill suspected drug personalities; it replaces the police function of evidence-gathering and case build-up with that of compiling lists of suspected drug criminals; and the house-to-house visits under Project Tokhang are based on the "furtive fingers" of unknown informants.

The CMC 16-2016 is the PNP's Project Double Barrel, which lays out the anti-illegal drugs campaign plan. Diokno said it was issued based on a mere verbal campaign promise of President Rodrigo Duterte, which could not be a basis of a PNP order.

"It implements an alleged verbal order from the President to stop the war on drugs in six months. Nung ni-research pa namin yan, yung sinasabing verbal order na yan ay hindi pa siya presidente n'on, (When we researched it, that verbal order was issued when he was not yet the president)," he said.

"That promise was actually a campaign promise when he was just a candidate, wala pa siyang government authority (he does not have a government authority yet)," Diokno added.

The MC 2017-112, on the other hand, implements the Mamamayang Ayaw sa Anomalya, Mamamayang Ayaw sa Iligal na Droga (Masa Masid), which Diokno said institutionalized the anti-illegal drug campaign.

The memorandum orders all barangays to establish a drop box system to anonymously report suspected criminals, which Diokno said "violates the right to due process of law and to be presumed innocent."

"DILG MC 2017-112 also supplants the duty of the police to gather evidence with the function of compiling names of suspected criminals without any safeguards for protecting innocent persons," Diokno said.

"We believe that there is a big difference between reporting crimes and submitting names of suspected criminals," he added.

He explained that reporting crimes is done by witnesses who have knowledge of criminal activity while submitting names of alleged criminals "can be done by anyone who suspects, rightly or wrongly, that another person is a criminal."

Just like during the Japanese occupation in the Philippines and the secret police of Nazi in Germany, Diokno said allowing the submission of complaints through a dropbox gives any person the opportunity to "report any person even if they are completely innocent."

"It does not require evidence, only names. This is just like during the Japanese occupation or the rule of Nazi in Germany," said Diokno.

Petitioners said the death of Ryan Dave Almora and Rex Aparri and the shooting of Jefferson Soriano are part of the extra-legal killings.

On the other hand, their relatives--- Aileen Almora, sister of victim Ryan Dave Almora; Rowena Aparri, mother of victim Rex Aparri; and Jefferson Soriano survived a summary execution attempt. They are among the petitioners in this case. /jpv